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Mapping the Geographical and Literary Boundaries of Los Angeles: A Real and Imagined City

Abstract
In Los Angeles, the influence of Hollywood and the film industry, combined with a non-stop barrage of media images, has blurred the line between the real and imaged. The literature reveals a city exploding with cultural, racial and social differences, making Los Angeles a confusing and alienating place. The literature of Los Angeles reflects the changing face of the city. Los Angeles was always a city with a promising future, economic booms and optimism seemed to suggest that here was a place where the American Dream really could come true. Thousands travelled west in search of sunshine, oranges and a life that formerly, they could only dream of having. Yet, the literature of Los Angeles has highlighted the city's actual history together with a realization of undercurrents of violence, prejudice, depression and shattered dreams. The past, present and future is used to reveal a city that is in stark opposition to the Los Angeles, waves of immigrants came to find. This thesis explores the idea of the dreamer coming west to Los Angeles within the literature and the variety of ways in the travellers' romantic notions of Los Angeles as a city of promise, is betrayed, leaving a desperate people in its wake. The literature shows that beneath the shiny surface of a city founded on sunshine and prosperity, corruption reached all levels of society and the 'mean streets' abound. Later, influenced by an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness caused by Post-war nuclear depression, McCarthyism, loss of identity, and living in a city fragmented by racial tension and an ever growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, the literature of Los Angeles reflects not only the fears of that city, but of American society as a whole. The collision of technology, rapid progression and population explosion turned Los Angeles into a disconnected city, where the real and imagined merge in a cityscape that demonstrates a conflicting combination of historical replication, original design and movie-set inspiration. Nothing is ever what it appears to be in Los Angeles.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Granville, S. (2007). Mapping the Geographical and Literary Boundaries of Los Angeles: A Real and Imagined City (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2359
Date
2007
Publisher
The University of Waikato
Supervisors
Rights
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